Transfer Fees

Once a viable lifeline, the transfer market enabled City to cash in on their better players, some sales literally allowed City to survive. Given today's footballing landscape, who will be our next big money sale?

City have traditionally been a selling club, invariably our record transfer sale figure has been in excess of our record signing fee. The 1990s were a golden decade for transfers as many members of City's successful side moved onto greater things.

Hamstrung by low income, we’ve been unable to offer big fees and the wages that go with large transfer fees.

In November 1933, City paid a small fee, believed to be about £100 for Walter Lax, Coventry's left winger, the first time City paid a fee for a player. John Simpson was our first £1,000 signing in 1947. After his playing career, he was appointed City’s physio in 1977. He also enjoyed a testimonial during his physio years with City.

The 1950s saw City make a number of signings for fees of £5,000 or less. £5,000 fees were paid for the returning David Dunmore (1965) and Ted MacDougall (1967), but it was the record signing of Paul Aimson for £8,000 in August 1969 that caught the imagination. It was his second spell with City, we’d paid £1,000 for him in 1964 and sold him for £10,000 2 years later.

4 summers later, Tom Johnston smashed City’s transfer record again when paying £10,000 for Ian Butler, he went onto break it 15 months later when he paid £12,000 for Barry Lyons and again in August 1974 when paying £18,000 for Mickey Cave.

In 1978, David Loggie set a new transfer fee for City when arriving for £20,000, it wasn’t until he moved to Belgium and Holland that he re-discovered his goalscoring boots. A year later, Gordon Staniforth left City for a club record fee of £120,000, breaking the previous record sale of £33,000 of Brian Pollard.

However, it wasn’t until 1984 that our transfer record fee was again broken when Denis Smith paid £50,000 for Dale Banton, that came just a few weeks after the sale of John Byrne for £100,000.

Post Denis Smith and relegation, there was a loosening of purse strings that saw a series of mid-price signings, but it wasn’t until 1992 that John Ward equalled our transfer record when signing Paul Barnes. The purchases were offset by the sale of Marco Gabbiadini, his initial £80,000 fee in September 1987 swelling to around £510,000 with a 25% sell on clause when he Crystal Palace paid £1.8m for him in September 1991.

Promotion saw Alan Little twice break our transfer record when signing Rob Matthews (£90,000, September 1995) and Adrian Randall (£140,000) just 3 months later. The fee paid for Randall remains our record purchase to this day. Neither particularly impressed nor settled in York. Both had left City within a year, with City just about recouping the fees paid. Incidentally, Harry Redknapp, when asked, "What about a wasted talent?", replied “Adrian Randall at Bournemouth. He was a genius. Six foot tall, he used to glide over the pitch, juggling the ball on his foot. He could do it all. We used to play him against Tony Pulis in training and he’d tie him in knots, but he never really made it. He was so laid-back in his attitude. You just wanted to shake him, because this was a talent like I’d never seen". Rumours suggested he liked a drink or three.

The mid to late 1990s were a golden period for outgoing transfers. With subsequent sell on clauses added, Jon McCarthy (£660,000), Paul Barnes (£360,000), Dean Kiely (£300,000), Graeme Murty (£750,000), Jon Greening (£1,137,500) and Richard Cresswell (£950,000) all moved on. Incidentally, McCarthy understood that QPR had shown interest in him before signing Trevor Sinclair and later revealed when he moved to Port Vale, John Ward wrote to him to congratulate him on his move, stating that he'd previously shown interest in signing him and other City players) for Bristol Rovers.

At the time, a lot of money slipped through City's fingers. Plymouth were prepared to pay £250,000 for Dean Kiely, but not meet City's £400,000 valuation (later City got £125,000 from Bury via a tribunal). Andy McMillan had a trial at Sheffield Wednesday, (he recalls after a midweek game at Walsall which dates it as September 1998 (or December 1995 as per a later YEP report), playing a reserve team game for them against Everton at Goodison. City turned down an offer and Wednesday withdrew when City suddenly demanded an extra £50,000 whilst Dave Jones' Wolves (a £500,000 bid was quoted in the papers) and Aberdeen also made bids for McMillan which he didn't know about at the time. In late 2019, Nigel Pepper described McMillan as "the fitness player he played with, he would have played for England with a bit of nastiness about him". 6 figure bids for others, including a £300,000 bid for Tony Barras, Steve Tutill and Steve Bushell, were also thought to have been lodged. Later, on York Hospital Ball Wayne Hall revealed that John Bird had told him that City had a rejected a bid from Sunderland for him and that Andy McMillan told him that a couple of clubs had made offers for both he and McMillan but City wouldn't sell both together.

Meanwhile, an habitual issue has been the exact fee paid or received, often muddied by subsequent clauses. For example, Speaking on Roker Rapport Podcast Special in November 2021, Ricky Sbragia City said that received £1.6m each for both Jon Greening and Nick Culkin from Manchester United, figures that have not been corroborated elsewhere and are in excess of generally accepted figures (about £1.2m and betweeen £100,000 and £250,000 respectively).

Unfortunately, the monies received weren’t well spend. The likes of Colin Alcide, Barry Conlon, Gordon Connelly, David Rush, John Sharples, Mark Tinkler and Neil Tolson were signed for fees of £70,000 or more but all failed to drive the team forward.

In our recent non league years, the £60,000 spent on Jason Walker has been our biggest signing and with adds on included, the next biggest was Jake Hyde (£40,000).

Meanwhile, a number of players moved on for reasonable fees, including Richard Brodie (£275,000) and Martyn Woolford (£200,000).

In more recent years, a number of juniors have left, including Ben Godfrey (an initial fee of £150,000 (plus sell on clauses) was widely quoted), Ryan Edmondson, Gabby McGill and Sam Fielding. Since Godfrey, the fees have all been undisclosed, but are probably relatively small initial fees but with more lucrative clauses as the players progress their careers. In City's history, in round numbers, City have netted over £7m from sales of home grown players and £3.5m from other sales.

Throughout the years, a number of junior and young players have been “poached” from City. Stand outs include 14 year old Cole Kiernan (£40,000), Chris Hogg (150,000), Lee Grant (£50,000), Cameron Stuart (£50,000), Scott Allison (£25,000), Nick Culkin (£100,000) and Curtis Woodhouse (£2,200, but understood to be about £66,000 with subsequent sell on clauses).

It is believed that Marco Gabbiadini, Jon McCarthy and Jon Greening were the first 3 ex City players to be subsequently transferred for a million pounds or more. In October 2020, they were joined by Ben Godfrey.

Footnote: With City's lowly status, being outside EPPP and coupled with most of City's professional contracts now being just one year, it is unlikely that there will be significant transfer income in the near future. Ryan Edmondson (Leeds) is believed to be the only active transfer clause that could be activated.

In total, City have netted over £10.8m from transfer fees. For details of all City's players, including many transfer fees paid and received, see Contracts, Players, Fees & Appearances

  • Best £10 City ever spent? Norman Wilkinson's signing on fee
  • Biggest Waste of Money: David Rush (£85,000) and sacked 9 months later
  • Only player to join us twice for a fee and leave both times for a higher fee: Paul Aimson
  • Wilf McGuinness’s biggest regret? He agreed a £10,000 fee to sign Tony Woodcock. Only for Forest to pull out of the deal due to an injury crisis
  • Top 5 transfer fee spending managers in our history: Alan Little (approx. £865,000), Neil Thompson, Gary Mills, Bobby Saxton and John Bird.
  • Top 6 transfer fee earning managers in our history: Alan Little (approx. £3,953,000), Jackie McNamara, Neil Thompson, Bobby Saxton, Martin Foyle and Colin Walker
  • In total, City have spent over £2.4m on transfer fees and received over £10.8m in fees

Top Fees Paid By York City






Randall, Adrian




All time City record

Conlon, Barry




Matthews, Rob




Club record at the time. Previous was £50,000 (Banton / Barnes)

Rush, David




Alcide, Colin




All fees are the original transfer fees, it is believed that no adds on clauses were involved / activated.

Top Fees Received By York City






Godfrey, Ben




  • Exact fees not disclosed, but £150,000 from City to Norwich was widely quoted (amongst other higher figures)
  • All time club record (with clauses included)
  • £150k + £2,485k (10% sell on)
  • Sale to Everton widely believed to include performance clauses, so City's share may further increase
  • Godfrey to Norwich

Greening, Jonathan

Manchester United



  • Exact fee not disclosed
  • £350k + £500k (appearances) + £287.5k (25% sell on)
  • Speaking in 2020, Keith Usher, who was club Secretary at the time stated the initial fee was £350,000 and with add ons, City received "around £1,300,000"

Cresswell, Richard

Sheffield W



  • Club record one off fee
  • Commonly stated to be City's all time club record fee received, but see Greening / Godfrey above re add ons

Murty, Graeme




  • Club record (at the time)
  • Includes £50k promotion bonus

McCarthy, Jon

Port Vale



  • Club record (at the time)
  • £450k + £210k (20% sell on)

Gabbiadini, Marco




  • Sell on made it a club record (at the time)
  • £80k + £430k (25% sell on)

Barnes, Paul




  • £300k + £10k (20% sell on)

Kiely, Dean




  • £125k + £175k (20% sell on)

Note: Some sources may show slight variances on the clauses. Many sources list Richard Cresswell as our biggest fee received, however with add ons, City almost certainly received more for Jon Greening and definitely did for Ben Godfrey. For Greening, most sources suggest a sell on clause from Manchester United of 20% or 25%, meaning a £230,000 sell on amount based on 20% (or £287,500 based on 25%).

City profit from Greening sell on clause (YEP 10/Aug/2001)

Cash In Reserve (YEP)

Manchester United transfers

and YEP dated 27/01/2000.

Speaking to The Athletic in March 2020, Keith Usher, now 78, who was club secretary at the time recalled transfer deadline day in 1999 (March 25, at the time there was no transfer window and transfers could be done at any time in the season until deadline day (late March, usually the last Thursday)). “There was a telephone call from chairman Douglas Craig. It was a surprise — that’s what I remember, because there’d been no inkling of it. And it was deadline day. At our level, it was very rare we were in the news. But there was no fuss. Our chairman wasn’t like that. He was from near Dundee.” What Craig informed Usher was that Sheffield Wednesday, then in the Premier League, had bid £950,000 for York’s 21-year-old striker Richard Cresswell. “Douglas came in for a natter most days, he’d have spoken to his directors and then we went into action.” As Usher says: “Richard was actually on duty for England Under-21s in Southampton. I know Richard well. He came to York City with Jonathan Greening; trainees together. Richard lived with my wife and I, and because my wife looked after the trainees then.” Twelve months earlier, Greening had moved to Manchester United from York 24 hours before deadline day. “I remember Jonathan coming back into the car park with his dad, having been across to Old Trafford. That was just before deadline day because I remember we had a chance to get a sell-on clause in the deal — Jonathan went for ‘only’ £350,000 but there were clauses and in the end, we got around £1.3 million — whereas with Richard, it went through that fast we missed out on a sell-on clause. It was a damned good fee, though. There was a cut-off point at midnight. It was all done by fax.” The Football League was headquartered near Blackpool then and Usher recalls that before fax machines, “you’d to type it up and post it or you actually had to go across to (the league offices in) Lytham St Anne’s to get the contract in, hoping you’d get there on time.”

Jon McCarthy

Paul Barnes

See details of Paul Barnes' transfer to Birmingham.

Richard Cresswell

Being the biggest lump sum received by City, a special feature on Richard Cresswell.


  1. Check out CONTRACTS, Players, Fees & Appearances for a full list of players, current contracts, playing records and transfer fees
  2. NB Given many transfer fees are stated as “undisclosed”, or figures vary between the buying and selling clubs and the effect of additional payments. All fees should be assumed to be approximate, however all figures stated are believed to be reasonably accurate and include additional payments